The first day of our Symposium was a smashing success! The large group discussion of “where we are” revealed the extreme pressure on teachers and teacher educators. We heard about the fast and furious rate of reform in some countries – non-stop initiatives coming from the government. These are so prolific that there are often contradictory messages (e.g., be inquiry-based but focus on skills development). The mini presentations addressed a range of issues: what happens when standards are implemented; student teacher expectations for courses versus the teacher educators’ goals; problems of teacher retention; the vast number of pathways into teaching creates confusion; and teacher educators having different emphases in their courses even when there is a common syllabus. A problem that arose is lack of control over the implementation of standardization. It can take a very different form from the envisaged use of the standards. The place of digital technology in literacy/English education still eludes and needs much more discussion of what to do and how to do it so that technology is used to support learning.
The discussion was rich and far-ranging. A number of participants commented that we rarely have an opportunity to discuss “big issues” in education and teacher education.
Today promises to be another day full of lively discussion.